On Monday morning, the Minnesota Vikings announced that they had signed safety Harrison Smith to a contract extension, which will keep him on the roster through the 2021 season. He has been one of the key components of the Vikings defense since the team drafted him in 2012 and it looks as though he will remain that for years to come.
No one has ever questioned Smith’s value to the team; the real question for the past few seasons has been the safety position next to him. The team has not had a co-safety play to the level they need to really be able to utilize Smith and his abilities. Since the second safety has been somewhat of a liability, the coaches have tended to keep Smith back deep, instead of utilize his versatility in the pass rush, running game and more.
The team made some moves this offseason in signing veteran safety Michael Griffin, drafting Jayron Kearse and re-signing Andrew Sendejo to a new contract in hopes of finding a solution. They also still have Antone Exum and Anthony Harris - who both got experience starting last season - to work with as well.
So far through organized team activities it has been Sendjo taking a majority of the first-team snaps with Smith, but head coach Mike Zimmer does not sound completely sold on him yet. Instead, it sounds like it might take all offseason for him to make a decision.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1676508-vikings-ota-highlights-6-7 “It’s still a work in progress,” Zimmer said. “We’re trying to look at all the different guys. Griffin is learning, I like some of the things Kearse is doing, Exum is athletic, Anthony Harris very seldom makes mistakes, Sendejo is solid like he usually is, so we just have to keep going. The one thing I try not to do, especially in OTAs when we’re not in pads, I try not to jump to some type of conclusion about who should be the starter and who shouldn’t. We’ll kind of let that play out in camp.”
Smith was also asked about the position next to him and if he would like consistency there and sort of just side-stepped the question, saying, “that’s not really up to me.” He then went on to talk about how lucky he is to be able to play on a team where all the players try their hardest every play no matter if they are a starter or a backup.
He was then asked how the team’s other safeties, specifically, have looked so far this offseason and once again he chose to discuss the team as a whole.
“Everybody is making plays, everybody’s doing a lot of good things, so I think we’re all working together well,” he said. “We’re learning from each other and we just got to keep building on that.”
http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1676330-smith-looks-forward-to-vi... The Vikings defense has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL this season, barring injuries, and right now the only real question mark seems to be that second safety spot. Smith is one of the best safeties in the NFL and, if they can get the right guy to play next to him, his production to could increase further.
His strength does not come in covering the deepest part of the field every play, but moving around the defense and attacking opponents in a number of different ways. In order to do that, though, he needs to have a safety working with him that Zimmer is comfortable having defend the deep middle of the field. Whether that player is on the roster at this point in time or not is not yet clear, but we will be able to get a better picture of it as the regular season approaches.